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Nani

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Nani is one of the most skilful players in the world

Nani is one of the most skilful players in the world

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

After a largely disappointing first two seasons at Manchester United, Nani showed signs of life in the 2009-10 campaign and has not looked back since.

An eye-catching display in a 3-1 win over Arsenal in January 2010 demonstrated why Sir Alex Ferguson spent big on the winger in 2007 and Nani went on to enjoy a marvelous 2010.

Dubbed the new Cristiano Ronaldo on his arrival from Sporting Lisbon, Nani shares the same ability to waltz past defenders as his illustrious countryman and is now considered one of the best wingers in the world.

An exit from United looked likely after a bust-up with Ferguson in November 2009 when he complained to the Portuguese press that he was not getting picked in the big games, but now there seems no doubt that his future lies at Old Trafford.

Quick Facts:

  • Name: Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Date and Place of Birth: November 17, 1986 in Praia, Cape Verde
  • Position: Winger
  • Current Club: Manchester United (Premier League)
  • Previous Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (2003-2007)
  • International Career: 2006 to present
  • Sporting Start:

    Sporting’s youth system is world renowned, boasting the likes of Paulo Futre, Luis Figo and Ronaldo among its alumni.

    Nani, who was born in Cape Verde and abandoned by his father when he was five years old, credits the Sporting set-up as crucial in his development. After graduating to the senior side, he made almost 30 appearances in each of his two seasons, scoring four and five goals respectively before his move to Old Trafford.

    United Move:

    Nani was used sparingly by Ferguson in his first season, but did make 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring four times. He was also inconsistent in his second campaign in English soccer. Always able to demonstrate fancy flicks and quick feet, his end product was lacking and question marks were raised over his future in England.

    But that performance and goal at the Emirates Stadium coupled with two strikes against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final second leg proved defining moments in his United career, and although a penchant for diving continues to infuriate, at least Nani now delivers on a regular basis, an expert in one-on-one situations.

    International Career:

    After playing 10 times for the under-21s, Nani made his senior debut on September 1, 2006, scoring against Denmark in a 4-2 friendly win.

    The winger was used sparingly in Euro 2008, and missed out on the 2010 World Cup altogether after picking up a shoulder injury on the eve of the tournament.

    During a torturous qualifying campaign, Nani produced a man-of-the match display against Malta (scoring one and setting up another in a 3-1 win), and also provided two assists in the play-off double header against Bosnia to help seal Portugal's place in South Africa.

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